Migration and globalisation are two important factors when it comes to the celebration and adaptation of cultural traditions. Emigrated minorities hold on to their homeland traditions and pass it on to the next generations and the new communities in which they live. Mass media such as TV shows and films have also influenced the popularisation of holidays such as Halloween, St. Patricks Day and Valentine’s Day, bringing them into the mainstream.
Let’s take a look at some cultural celebrations that travelled around the world due to migration and globalisation.
Midsummer is celebrated in Scandinavia usually between the 19th and 25th of June. Families and friends gather in the countryside to spend time together, enjoy good food and dance around the Maypole. Girls wear flowers in their hair, children dance funny frog dances around the Maypole, everyone eats pickled herring and potatoes, and the adults drink (lots of) schnapps and sing cheerful songs. It is often also the longest day of summer which is especially treasured in Scandinavia because of the dark winters.
You can find this old summer tradition in Oregon, USA as well. For over 40 years descendants in Astoria, at the North Coast of Oregon, celebrate it in the form of a Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. Large groups of Scandinavians emigrated here from the late 1800s and now the rich cultural heritage is embodied in a festival with traditional music, dance, theatre, crafts and food.
Carnival is celebrated in many places around the World but especially in the Caribbean and Latin America. It also originates from Catholic Lent festivities, during which people feast and celebrate abundantly before starting a period of fasting. Carnival is a colourful celebration with street parades, live music, dancing, flamboyant costumes, masquerades and food!Since the 1960s Carnival has become an important holiday in the UK when a Trinidadian editor re-introduced this celebration, because actually Britain knew Carnival celebrations before- in the 18th Century. Today one of the largest carnival celebrations can be found in London’s Notting Hill, where many communities come together to celebrate the tradition of the vibrant Caribbean carnival.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is celebrated each year on a day between mid-January and mid-February, depending on the lunar calendar. The celebration continues for 15 days and most people have this time off from work. In China the colour red is a sign of fortune, wealth and prosperity, hence all the house and street decorations with red buntings and lanterns. Fireworks are lit on the Chinese New Year’s Eve to celebrate the start of a new year but also to scare away monsters. There are parades, music, food stalls, and so on.
The Chinese culture has travelled to many corners of the planet, and today the Chinese New Year is celebrated as public holiday in at least 15 other countries. Most of these include Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, America, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Each country celebrates it a little bit differently but you’ll find Chinatowns and large settlements of Chinese people who create fantastic festivals everywhere.
Featured Image: Lanterns By Ting W. Chang from Taipei, Taiwan – Lantern Festival, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38138646
Photo 1: Midsummer By Mikael Häggström – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6509011
Photo 2: Carnival By Willrobs – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9472728
Photo 3: Dragon By Chris Phutully from Australia – Chinese Lunar New Year 2014, Melbourne AU, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31594823